April outdoor opening ‘not economically feasible’

By Nikkie Thatcher

- Last updated on GMT

Trade concern: only allowing pubs to serve outside for a month from Easter could mean many more businesses will collapse, hospitality businesses have warned
Trade concern: only allowing pubs to serve outside for a month from Easter could mean many more businesses will collapse, hospitality businesses have warned

Related tags: Legislation, Government, ukhospitality, Jdw, Loungers, arc inspirations

The rumoured reopening of hospitality venues for outdoor use only in April with indoor areas allowed from May has been slammed by the trade, alongside calls for the Government to be honest and open in its approach for a roadmap out of lockdown three.

Over the weekend (Saturday 13 and Sunday 14 February), various national publications reported the Government was considering plans to allow pubs to serve in external areas from Easter before permitting inside service a month later.

Many of those in the trade took to social media to voice their frustration about the impact this will have on the industry alongside claims the Government was "leaking" this information to test public opinion.

UKHospitality boss Kate Nicholls said: “Keeping indoor areas closed until May and only allowed the use of outdoor areas is going to be economically unviable for many businesses.

"If this is the plan for reopening, it will see more businesses going under. We need a plan to get pubs open safely more quickly, otherwise the sector is in real danger of even more failures and job losses."

Loungers founder and chairman Alex Reilley reiterated the importance of hospitality being allowed to open as soon as possible.

He said: “May is two and a half months from now – two and a half months ago we were about to come out of lockdown two.

“Some scream hospitality is being ‘impatient’ or ‘unreasonable’ in wanting to reopen. The truth is, many in our sector won’t have a business left to reopen by May, Livelihoods and jobs destroyed.”

Totally unhelpful

JD Wetherspoon (JDW) boss Tim Martin told Mail Online ​his thoughts on the rumoured plans for hospitality to reopen.

“These decisions are made by ministers with no experience of business or empathy for business,” he said.

“In my 41 years in business, it’s the least consultative and most authoritarian Government I’ve experienced.”

Multiple operator Arc Inspirations chief executive Martin Wolstencroft criticised national media reporting of rumoured reopening.

He tweeted: “Another totally unhelpful article [in The Times​] saying pubs could open serving outside in April, inside in May but it could be August.

“Who makes this nonsense up? August is nearly seven months off! Seven months ago we were open with Eat Out to Help Out. Many will be bust if we don’t open by May.”

Night-time adviser for Greater Manchester and operator Sacha Lord said the "leaks" in the weekend newspapers caused fear for the trade.

Spineless blurb

He shared: "I called it yesterday. Today we wake up to hospitality 'leaks' on the front of every major newspaper.

"This isn't leadership. It causes anxiety, fear or false hope.

"They are testing public reaction before the announcement. Another week of uncertainty and rumour."

Celebrity chef and pub owner Tom Kerridge retweeted Lord's comments and added his thoughts on how the Government should conduct themselves in the future.

He said: "I just wish they'd actually hear what we've all been telling them for almost a year now.

"Moving forward, an honest approach with clarity and understanding would be a start. It's the wobbly uncertainty and spineless blurb that's so frustrating."

Related topics: Legislation

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